Guangxu bowl

Started by JjGhandi, Nov 28, 2020, 08:14:05

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Also, your orange dragon seems to be black contoured, mine is fully orange.


It is just the photo, it is overcast so taking pictures with natural sun light isn't the greatest but the dragon is outlined in orange and the flaming pearl and the orange dragon is gilded in gold especially the scales, the head and the mouth of the orange dragon, yours has the scrolling vines and mine has the cloud decoration, I have seen and know for sure that the cloud decoration is a Guangxu period decoration and later, but I'm not sure if it was done in the Daoguang period, if it is Imperial I believe that the Imperial kiln would be the same from Daoguang to Guangxu.


Stan, that is impossible, I'm afraid.  The imperial kiln was not active for many years in between.

The Taiping rebellion was an uprising against the empire with a real strong army of fighters. It was more like what we would now call a civil war. Not a small local uprising, they intended to conquer the empire. The Chinese imperial army was unable to suppress them, it could be done later only with the help of British officer, if I remember right.
During the Xianfeng reign (the one following Daoguang) the fighting parties clashed in Jingdezhen and the imperial kiln was destroyed/damaged and abandoned for many years, until it was established anew.

Apart from this it is generally thought that  during the Jiaqing reign the quality of porcelain started slowly to decrease, and it only picked up again after the Xianfeng reign, after the re-establishing of the imperial kiln. It is visible, however, that about from the Daoguang reign onwards some imperial porcelain is not comparable with that of the Qianlong reign, for example. So there is still a chance that yours is mark and period too.

As to the two dragons and the perl subject, it was apparently quite common, but not on export wares. Careful, there seem to be many fakes too.


Thanks Peter, that is good information.


Hi Peter, Stan,

Thanks for your insights.

A person with 20 years of experience in studying Guangxu dragons types has doubts about this.
She says that the scene of chasing dragons is always surrounded with clouds, like Stan's one, never with peonies and other flowers.
Flowers and peonies would only be possible with dragons when the dragon is in a medallion scene.

She also said that iron-red chasing dragons never have an underglaze blue mark, but that's not true. I've found a piece sold on Christies:

Howver, I can't seem to find green and iron-red dragons in this type of format at all.

But the quality of this piece is really high. I really doubt someone could fake this without being a master himself.

Could this be made later in your opinions? Would they copy Guangxu wares in the early 20th century? That doesn't make sense to me.

Kind regards,



In my view it is pointless in talking about things with too many variables. I just looked at a book containing only bowls and plates from the Qing dynasty, which are marked, and there were several with dragons on a floral (leaves) background. There are too many variations on this subject to establish rules what the decorations should look like, I believe. Further, the color clouds on  Stan's bowl were encountered by me mainly on Guangxu items, but experience shows that often decorations also appear during earlier periods, perhaps not that plenty. Unless I would get reliable information that says the color clouds were only used from the Guangxu reign, I would not dare claim that his bowl is Guangxu.

As to the mark, my information says that most imperial marks of the Guangxu reign were in underglaze blue, not red. This is probably true for most reigns up to the Qing dynasty, but not necessarily from the Daoguang to the Tongzhi reigns.That does not exclude red marks completely. And the mark color was often not related to the item glaze color or decoration material. So you could find monochromes and polychrome items which independent from the decoration had underglaze blue marks.
This said, we often cannot know for sure if an item is imperial or just a quality item from a private kiln in the late Qing dynasty. In addition, during the Guangxu reign some private kilns were forced to provide porcelain as tribute to the court, which would mean that they were able to produce a minimum quality. But in general restrictions and rules as to marks, decorations, etc. (as mark direction, underglaze blue or not, marked or not and how) did just not apply to these if they did not procure them for the court. Cloud dragons are just one type of dragons, there are others which not necessarily are in the clouds.


Hi Peter,

You are completely right.
I really need this piece to be hand inspected.

One more thing about the mark alignment:
I've just read that there are several Guangxu imperial pieces known with an off alignment of the mark.
These are much more frequent (due to the several reasons you have given: declined quality, destroyed kilns etc) than in early Qing reigns but I even saw an imperial Kangxi Claire de Lune water pot with an underglaze blue Kangxi mark that wasn't 100% rightly written and even a baking flaw on the base. This indicates that not all wrongfully made imperial items were destroyed, contrary to what often is said and written.

Kind regards,



I have seen a pair of what seem to have been Guangxu imperial ware. One was properly aligned, and was a little off. I do not think marks are always very accurately center in that period. Qianlong might be different, but not sure.

Tang Ying, the overseer at the imperial kiln in Jingdezhen (from Kangxi reign to Qianlong, afterwards retired) once wrote to the Qianlong emperor to apply for secondary quality items to be sold instead destroyed. The Qianlong emperor granted this. It seems from then on imperial kiln items of inferior quality may have been sold/auctioned off at Jingdezhen. Don't know however if that was continued afterwards. Just another historic factor that shows that the hard imperial rules were not valid or observed all the time.


I think that the bowl originally had the Peony and Foliage pattern and the Dragons and the Flaming Pearl have been added later. Does it show up under a magnifying glass if the Dragons have been painted over the tendrils of foliage?